Sports software company Zwift secures bumper investment from London private equity house

 
Oliver Gill
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Zwift was founded by fans of both cycling and video games

A software company promising to turn indoor sport on its head announced a $27m (£22m) investment from a London-based private equity house.

Zwift, which currently focuses on creating an outdoor virtual reality for indoor cycling, said the cash boost would give them the "powder" to take the business to the next level.

Gaming private equity specialist Novator Partners provided the funding into the Californian company, which takes the total investment to date to $44m.

Speaking to City A.M., co-founder and chief exec Eric Min gave an indication of the company's future plans.

“We happen to focus on cycling. But really the bigger vision for the company is to do a number of other stationary activities," he said.

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Professionals and amateurs can train together (Source: Zwift)

Zwift's cycling platform enables users to connect with others from around the world and ride in a virtual reality. Professional riders are known to turn up from time to time and virtual cycling groups are springing up on the platform – sometimes including friends who know each other in real life, sometimes not.

Unlike some indoor sports activities, the cost of getting involved is comparatively small – users simply need a computer, indoor trainer and any old bike. The cost to use the software is $10 per month.

“What we’ve managed to do is take something that is extremely dull and made it into a exciting thing," said Min.

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Zwift stress that a big orange room is not required. A old laptop, indoor trainer and battered bike will suffice (Source: Zwift)

Min explained, however, that the company is at a crossroads and he hopes the new funding will take them beyond cycling. He said:

The gym experience hasn't changed in decades. I think we have a real opportunity to work with gyms, to create a more engaging experience for different gym operators. That is an area that we want to explore and potentially invest into.

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One the firm's founding investors, Shasta Ventures, said the latest capital injection meant Zwift was ready to offer "compelling virtual experiences to the mass market".

"We think that Zwift has the potential to build one of the largest communities of consumers who are active in fitness," said Shasta managing director Tod Francis.

Despite the substantial investment announced, Zwift is on the hunt for further capital to expand into what Min said is an untapped market.

He said the Novator investment would be "giving us a lot of powder to grow the business." But, he added: "I wouldn’t say this would be the last of the funding."

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